The early returns on Bloodwork, the major villain for the first half of this season, suggest that he’s a step up from Cicada but still kind of boring. That may change once Dr. Ramsey Rosso has fully transformed into what new showrunner Eric Wallace has described as “the most terrifying foe the Flash has ever faced,” but for now, the show’s subplots are more intriguing than the groundwork being set for the emergence of this new threat.
At least Rosso’s motivation is refreshingly self-serving; he just doesn’t want to die. That sets up an intentional contrast with Barry, who is coming to terms with facing his own death in order to save his friends and all of humanity, but it also sets him apart from past villains who had noble methods behind their madness. When the arms dealer Rosso brought back to life, Mitch Romano, goes on a dark matter stealing spree throughout Central City, Barry and his “meta consultant” Frost drop in on Rosso, who claims to have been robbed too. Frost is immediately suspicious of Caitlin’s old friend, seeing as how he tried to borrow some dark matter from her not so long ago, but Barry thinks Rosso can be of help in capturing Romano.
Frost’s instincts are right, of course, which Barry confirms when he catches Rosso trying to steal some of STAR Labs’ supply of dark matter. This opens the door to one of those “we’re not so different, you and I” moments between hero and villain, as Barry empathizes with Rosso’s loss of his mother even as they don’t see eye-to-eye on facing death head-on. Barry takes a hit when Rosso comments that it must have been hard to share the news of his impending doom with the rest of his team, since—true to form—Barry has not yet done so. Rosso agrees to help capture Romano, a plan that goes poorly at first when the hulking arms dealer attacks him. Rosso realizes he can control Romano’s movements and allows Barry to lure him into a pipeline cell he promptly destroys and escapes. Frost comes up with the plan to defeat him, which is basically pumping him so full of dark matter he overdoses and explodes into goo. But not just any goo! Goo with special properties Rosso can use to cure himself.
Let’s get to the more important stuff: We have a new Wells! Dr.. Harrison Nash Wells makes his first appearance this week after Iris’s new intern Allegra reports finding an image of Wells on a security camera. As Cisco correctly points out, this one is a swashbuckler in the Indiana Jones mode who has come to Earth-1 in search of an element called Eternium. He’s also a prickly, no-nonsense type who dismisses the Council of Wells as “those idiots,” which comes as something of a relief after several years worth of increasingly goofy Wellses. Now that Cisco is going to be spending more time at the lab than out in the field, he needs a foil to give him a little pushback. I’m sure Tom Cavanagh has had a lot of fun with the accents and goofy behavior, but I much prefer him in bristly mode.
The Flash certainly appears to be building up to the introduction of Ralph’s future wife Sue. This week we meet Ralph’s mother Debbie (Amy Pietz) after she’s arrested and charged with a pawn shop robbery. Although Debbie has an extensive rap sheet, she has an alibi in this case as she was busy gambling at an illegal casino when the robbery occurred. It’s always fun when The Flash mixes and matches its supporting cast, and Ralph and Cecile make for an amusing pair as she coaches Debbie through a poker game as a distraction so Ralph can do some stealth stretching and retrieve the needed security footage. In the end, this subplot is all about Ralph opening his heart to the possibility of lasting love despite his mother’s many failures to do the same, which means we’ll probably be meeting Sue Dearborn sooner than later.
When Barry finally comes clean with the gang about his fate in the Crisis, he says that none of them can try to save him. Since there are five episodes remaining before the Crisis crossover, it’s a pretty safe bet no one is going to take him at his word on that. All the buildup feels a bit like killing time before the main event. It’s the stuff happening around the edges that has so far elevated season six over its recent predecessors.
- There’s no mention of the destruction of Earth-2 by a wave of antimatter in last week’s season premiere of Arrow, so I gather the news hasn’t reached Central City yet. RIP to the doppel-versions of Team Flash we met when the multiverse was introduced way back in season two. Here’s hoping that Harry and Jesse Wells happened to be elsewhere when the crisis struck.
- It’s a far too rare treat to see Team Flash in party mode, and it’s a shame the show doesn’t let us spend a little more time at Frost’s birthday soiree. I’m not looking for The Flash to turn into an Altman movie or anything, but it would be nice to enjoy the characters in their leisure time and maybe skip a pep talk or emergency “we’re all gonna die” meeting once in a while.